No one likes to fail. We definitely don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of someone, or especially a group of people. Who in their right mind would voluntarily get up and give a speech for an audience? Why would we put ourselves through the agony of knowing that there’s a really good chance we will bomb? At some point in our lives, we will need to step up and take that chance. Whether it’s an oral report for school, the toast at our friend’s wedding or a nerve-racking presentation for work, there’s a good chance of screwing up. Let’s talk about failure. I’m sure every one of us can conjure up at least one memory of a time we messed up—yet somehow we survived. If we could really die of embarrassment, I would’ve died many times.
Looking back, I realized that my failures were all lessons I needed to learn. I wouldn’t change any of them, because those experiences made me a better speaker. I approach every opportunity to present to a group of people as invaluable stage time. Just like anything else done well, effective public speaking takes practice. The more opportunities we take to refine our speeches, the more chances we have to create impactful messages. We all learn from each other, and the only way we can do that is to communicate and share our experiences.
When we take a look back at our lives and see how far we’ve come, we’ll realize something important: All those failures, all those cringe-worthy moments, left us with life lessons that inevitably led us to our successes. It’s that knowledge we need to share with each other. You never know who in your audience needs to hear that message that day.
Keeping ourselves safe from embarrassment will keep us from growing and really knowing our potential. I love Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Yes, we may fall flat on our faces, but we will get up and be better than ever. Let’s give ourselves permission to fail. We may never know where that will lead us until we do.
Celeste DeCamps is